IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The spatial dimension of social capital


  • Rutten, Roel
  • Westlund, Hans
  • Boekema, Frans


Social capital pertains to the social relations between humans, and since these social relations have a spatial dimension, so too does social capital. However, the spatial dimension of social capital has received little attention in the literature so far. Even in a globalizing world where electronic and virtual communication have the potential to defeat the need for geographical proximity, it is still relevant to consider the spatial dimension of social capital. After all, human beings exist most prominently in real rather than in virtual space. This special issue undertakes an inquiry into the spatial dimension of social capital from an explorative perspective. It aims to further theoretical and empirical understanding of the spatial dimension of social capital. As editors we recognize that the debate on social capital is still ongoing in the literature and that it is fed from different, sometimes conflicting perspectives. Therefore, the spatial dimension of social capital can only be conceptualized in the light of these different perspectives, which necessitates an explorative approach. Nonetheless, the various contributions of this special issue allow several conclusions that are valuable to the ongoing discussion on social capital and its spatial dimension. In the first part of this introductory paper, we discuss social capital from a conceptual angle, as we distinguish between two key approaches (the “structuralist” and “interactionist” approaches). We then argue how these approaches may be helpful to the understanding of the spatial dimension of social capital. In the second part, we introduce the various contributions and explain how they contribute to the aim of this special issue.

Suggested Citation

  • Rutten, Roel & Westlund, Hans & Boekema, Frans, 2009. "The spatial dimension of social capital," MPRA Paper 30806, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:30806

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sjoerd Beugelsdijk & Ton Van Schaik, 2005. "Differences in social capital between 54 Western European regions," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(8), pages 1053-1064.
    2. Alistair R. Anderson & Sarah L. Jack, 2002. "The articulation of social capital in entrepreneurial networks: a glue or a lubricant?," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 193-210, July.
    3. Hans Westlund & Elin Nilsson, 2005. "Measuring enterprises' investments in social capital: A pilot study," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(8), pages 1079-1094.
    4. repec:spr:adspsc:978-3-540-35366-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Pinto, Hugo & Cruz, Ana & Gonçalves, Ana, 2011. "Hard Working Ant: An Eco-Tourism Spin-Off Creation Tale," Spatial and Organizational Dynamics Discussion Papers 2011-11, CIEO-Research Centre for Spatial and Organizational Dynamics, University of Algarve.
    2. Carpenter, Ann, 2013. "Social ties, space, and resilience: Literature review of community resilience to disasters and constituent social and built environment factors," FRB Atlanta Community and Economic Development Discussion Paper 2013-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    3. Elif Kısar Koramaz, 2014. "The Spatial Context of Social Integration," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(1), pages 49-71, October.
    4. Luciano Lavecchia, 2015. "A note on social capital, space and growth in Europe," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1017, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    5. Basco, Rodrigo, 2015. "Family business and regional development—A theoretical model of regional familiness," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 259-271.
    6. Jha, Anand & Cox, James, 2015. "Corporate social responsibility and social capital," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 252-270.
    7. Roman Martin, 2013. "Differentiated Knowledge Bases and the Nature of Innovation Networks," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(9), pages 1418-1436, September.

    More about this item


    Social capital; Spatial social capital; Spatial social networks;

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:30806. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.